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Mel Kiper Jr. ‘Grade A’ 3-round mock draft has Steelers ignoring two biggest needs

One half of the ESPN expert analyst team has produced his own 3-round mock draft, and the Steelers’ picks are certainly random.

NCAA Football: Central Michigan at Boston College Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

With the 2018 NFL Draft on the horizon, experts across the nation are putting in their two cents/predictions on how they feel the upcoming draft will shake out. What might be the most amusing aspect of this practice is how every year the NFL Draft is absolutely crazy.

Trades, surprise picks and players plummeting down the board make it one of the best weekends, and absolutely zero football is actually played.

Mel Kiper Jr. of ESPN put out his own 3-round mock draft recently to mirror what his counterpart, Todd McShay, did on Monday.

Kiper’s ‘Grade A’ mock draft has some ground rules which are worth going over:

  1. At each slot, I make a pick in the best interest of only the team with the pick
  2. No trades. I try to address team needs, but as with the actual draft, value can supersede need.
  3. I’m not projecting picks. This is more of a look at where I see value up and down the board, based on my rankings.

So, with that said, it is time to check in and see who Kiper has mocked to be a part of the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2018, and beyond.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Round 1 (28): Harold Landry, OLB, Boston College

Round 2 (60): Rashaad Penny, RB, San Diego State

Round 3 (92): Chris Campbell, CB, Penn State

Pittsburgh’s top need is linebacker -- inside and outside. Ryan Shazier’s football future is in doubt, which leaves a hole in the middle of the Steelers’ 3-4. Maybe Jon Bostic can be a good one-year stopgap while the Steelers use a later pick on competition. In this mock, though, I thought Landry was too talented to pass up. He’s an edge rusher who had 16.5 sacks in 2016 but struggled with injuries in 2017 and wasn’t as productive. He came back from his injury at the combine and put up outstanding testing numbers.

Penny is more insurance in case the Steelers decide to not pay Le’Veon Bell. They took James Conner on Day 3 last year, but he barely played as a rookie. Penny is more of a big-play threat than Conner. Campbell is a bigger corner whom I’ve heard teams like as a late Day 2, early Day 3 flier.

The pick of Landry is surprising, just based on the fact the team would be taking an outside linebacker, again, in the first round. If this were to happen, you could probably go ahead and tell Bud Dupree his 5th year option will not be picked up and he should prepare to hit the free agent market at season’s end.

Kiper taking running back and cornerback in Rounds 2-3 isn’t a huge shock, considering the Le’Veon Bell situation and the fact Joe Haden likely only has one year left before he prices himself out of Pittsburgh.

When looking back at his selections, the one thing I can’t wrap my head around, and don’t see happening in the real-life draft, is the organization completely ignoring both inside linebacker AND safety on Days 1 and 2. I’m not suggesting the team has to pick up both an ILB and S in the first three rounds, but it is safe to assume one of those two positions one will be addressed early in the process.

This shouldn’t surprise fans who follow Kiper’s work. He has long overlooked glaring team needs to pick players which make fans say, “What?!” more than, “Oh yeah!”

What do you think about the selections? Let us know in the comment section below!